From March 2 through May 25, the Park Ridge Public Library Classic Film Series returns with Movies about Movies: Hollywood Projects Itself, a program that scrutinizes the American way of making movies. The series offers many genres and styles, from musicals to film noir. There are slapstick comedies like Free and Easy and melodramas like The Bad and the Beautiful starring Kirk Douglas at his jaw-thrusting best. In addition, you’ll also see James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart in two separate films. One is a screwball star vehicle and the other is a haunting story of self-destruction directed by Nicholas Ray.
“We are excited about how our theme, Movies about Movies, ties in with the popularity of La La Land,” says program host Matthew C. Hoffman. The first film, Show People (starring the delightful comedienne Marion Davies), takes us on a trip back to the golden age of silent movies. Later, we will witness the transition from silent to sound with Hollywood’s colorful memory of itself: Singin’ in the Rain, which for many is the apex of the studio musical. There are other familiar titles in the series like Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels, but we offer just as many lesser-known gems awaiting rediscovery, such as It Happened in Hollywood, starring King Kong heroine Fay Wray and featuring a story co-written by future maverick filmmaker Sam Fuller.
The spring Classic Film Series explores how movies have taken a curious delight in turning the camera on themselves since their very beginnings. For an industry that was at one time bent on preserving outward appearances, it is remarkable to see just how many of these self-referential films present a cynical portrait of the system that spawned them. One does not have to look further than Sunset Boulevard to see the darker spin on the dream factory. The fictional tragedy of fading star Norma Desmond in that film, however, is matched by the real-life decline of silent comedian Buster Keaton who, in Free and Easy, shows us a picture of a star trapped by a studio that did not know what to do with him.
Movies about Movies also carries with it the hope and optimism of small-town girls who dream of going to Hollywood to become a star. It’s a distinctly American fable—one that will be seen time and again. A Star is Born, one of the best examples of this story line, was itself a remake of What Price Hollywood? Both versions will be shown in the series.
Doors for each viewing open at 6:30 p.m. with Hoffman introducing each film at 7:00 p.m. Seating is limited to 90. For those who arrive early, related short subjects and documentaries will be screened before 7 p.m. All film screenings at the Library are free. For more information about the Park Ridge Public Library Classic Film Series, please visit: www.parkridgeclassicfilm.com.
March 2: SHOW PEOPLE (1928)
March 9: FREE AND EASY (1930)
March 23: WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? (1932)
March 30: A STAR IS BORN (1937)
April 6: IT HAPPENED IN HOLLYWOOD (1937)
April 13: BOY MEETS GIRL (1938)
April 27: SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941)
May 11: IN A LONELY PLACE (1950)
May 25: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952)